Read the rest at Big Shiny Robot!
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I know, I know. This is real through the looking glass kind of stuff, but it seems as though sanity, reason, sound policy and family values has a new enemy and his name is Jason Chaffetz.
I implore the family values voters of Utah's 3rd congressional district to make sure a man that will surely be destructive (and ineffective) in the congress in our name to make sure that we vote for a real family values candidate. The real family values candidate is one that will make sure that our children have universal healthcare, our senior citizens are able to afford both the cost of living and medical attention, our unemployed can find work in federal works programs and the utility companies are forced out of lobbying and back into regulation that will get our economy on track.
We need a congressman who is going to ensure that our economy and dollar is stronger than it was when George Bush (finally) leaves office, one who understands that the Bush tax-cuts are preposterous and understands that you have to levy taxes for what you plan on paying for.
We need a congressman who understands that the relationship between families and the government needs to be one of symbiosis, one that enriches the lives of our people and makes their lives easier and happier.
That candidate is NOT Jason Chaffetz.
Chaffetz is wrong on ALL the issues important to families. Right on his website he talks about how we won't vote to expand SCHIP, offer hard working immigrants to our country a path to citzenship, gut federal programs, continue our folly in the Middle East, allow guns in our national parks and force the Deparment of Education out of business and foist the onus of education solely on state and local governments.
Clearly, this is madness.
There you go.
A Vote for Jason Chaffetz is a vote to extend our long national nightmare of the last 8 years and we need to make sure we do everything we can to make sure a man like this stays out of office.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
1937 - 2008
Carlin's is certainly a voice of sanity we needed in this world and I'm sad to see him go.
Crooks and Liars posted this, but it bears reposting: The seven words you can't say on television:
Friday, June 20, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Read it, comment...
A Message to Democratic Utah Voters.
It's the same thing as the article I wrote below that has had a very interesting discussion going on beneath it.
Read that one here and join in on the conversation.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Welcome to Utah.
So, a bunch of shitheads in West Valley, Utah developed a sock puppet monkey, with a black face and a "Obama" name tag. They called their company The Sock Obama, which is contracted through a larger, national company called Binkley's Toys.
This caused a gigantic outrage over the blatantly racist toy. In an "apology", Binkley's Toys owner, Rob Bishop said, "he and his staff did not see any racist connection". He then said that all production of the Obama monkey would stop immediately.
Then came all the free press covering the controversy.
Smelling money, the Utah company (headed by a David and Elizabeth Lawson) have decided to now sell the Obama monkey independently.
They said: "In the good ol' fashion spirit of entrepreneurialism, free enterprise has been censored, and TheSockObama politically plush toy has been discriminated against in the marketplace of the United States of America..."
They then said it was a "hypocritical double standard" that other companies sell George Bush Monkey dolls.
They then clarify that "we are not Mormons".
Christ, I would hope not.
Monday, June 16, 2008
IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH
Directed by Paul Haggis
* * * (Three Stars)
I got this film from Netflix three weeks ago and it's been sitting on my shelf. I was avoiding it for two reasons: I have to be in the right mood to watch a downer and I'm not a gigantic fan of Paul Haggis.
Crash was a movie that I knew I shouldn't like, but I liked it nonetheless. In fact, there are some really memorable scenes in Crash that are actually inspiring to me as a filmmaker. But Haggis' broad strokes and heavy handed commentary kept the film from feeling like a masterpiece.
Those same obstacles are in Elah, but just not as bombastic.
The story, based on actual events, is this: A soldier comes home from Iraq and then, within days, goes missing. His father (Tommy Lee Jones), a war veteran himself, travels to his son's military base and starts to look for him. A crime scene is discovered and its argued whether the jurisdiction falls with the police or with the military. The detective on the case (Charlize Theron) is reluctant until certain bombshells are dropped that start to paint a bigger picture. A murder mystery that soon transcends itself into a strong anti-war statement.
The first two acts of the film are straight forward and easy on bashing you over the head with politics and jargin (unlike Crash). Jones is brilliant as the strong hearted, quiet spoken father. I can now understand why this film gave him his Oscar nomination. He plays his pain softly and with a striking sense of realism.
The third act goes places I was not expecting and I was utterly enraptured in the final message of the film.
To sum it up, without spoilers, The Valley of Elah is where David met Goliath in a tale from The Old Testament. Goliath was such an intimidating soldier, that not even the best soldiers on the other side would face him. Then one day, a child by the name of David, told the king that he was willing to fight. The king was impressed and said, "Yes, here's my armor and sword. Go fight him." David, being a child, said "This armor is too heavy and I can't use a sword. I'll use my slingshot." And then, as the fairy tale goes, David stood his ground before the giant Goliath and, with the killer running at him sword drawn, slingshot a rock into his head. Goliath fell dead and David was a hero.
Charlize Theron, who is telling this story to her 6 year old son, is shocked when he asks, "Why would the king send such a little boy out to fight such a scary giant?" She says, "I don't know... I guess that was silly of him." Her son asks, "Wasn't the little boy scared?" She responds, "I'm sure... I'm sure he was afraid..."
Her young son's innocent, yet clear mind, sums up the entire movie in my opinion. As well as what going on in Iraq right now. In the fairy tale, and in the minds of George Bush and neo-conservatives, David defeats the Evil Giant and comes home a hero and a king. In reality, David comes home a mess, often confused or scarred. And sometimes, David never comes home.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I can't find anyone who seems to be running against him (outside of his own party, that is).
That being said, I'll do it.
There's no way we can let a guy like Chris Cannon run un-opposed. Does anybody know what procedures I'd have to go through to run as a Democrat against him? I'm assuming the local Democratic party office would have some who'd know.
It's not like I'd be a great candidate, but I'd certainly be great for the position. I'm not a BYU Law grad like his last opponent, Christian Burridge (who should run again), but I'm smart, know my politics and care way more about the people of Utah's 3rd Congressional than he does. He understands big business and lobbyists, but I understand people.
I also understand that domestic oil and shale drilling isn't a solution to our dependency on oil. Shifting where we get the oil isn't going to lessen our dependency on oil, it's just going to ruin our own natural resources to sate our unquenchable thirst for oil for a short time. The solutions that Cannon has been proposing are both short-sighted and ignore the problem. We need tax credits to make hybrid cars, electric cars and solar powered cars more affordable for everyone. And his solution to the problem doesn't really help Utahns. If there's one thing in Utah we have an abundance of, it's sunshine. Why not harness some of that to fix our problems instead of destroy national parks?
So... Seriously. Anybody want to step up? Or are we really going to make me do this?
But, it turns out it's all OK. The great creator of the universe communicated with Kirby and told him it was OK to pimp the juice.
Kirby told The Daily Universe: "People may be upset that Heavenly Father sent a beer commercial my way," Heyborne said. "But we [my wife and I] were so thankful. We know that Heavenly Father is taking care of us."
Heyborne said he can talk to Heavenly Father with a clean conscience and that's all that matters.
"I'm a father and a husband, and I'm worthy to take my wife to the temple," he said. "I do my home teaching faithfully, and fulfill my calling with vigor. I have a firm testimony, and I love this church."Can we give this guy some props? I mean, what a brilliant business move. With sales of his Mormon-centric products at risk, he pulls the classic "God told me so" shtick. Perfect.
In a totally un-related story, the Salt Lake Tribune had this headline this morning:
Swindler Played Faith Card in His Sales Pitch.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
STANDARD OPERATING PRODCEDURE
Directed By Errol Morris
* * * (Three Stars)
I snuck into the local art house theater to catch Errol Morris' new documentary on its last day in said theater. The 4pm showing. There were 3 people in attendance.
Morris is one of the reasons I got into documentary film. I saw The Thin Blue Line eight years ago and it blew my mind. Since then, I've seen his influence creep into my own films. For example, I have my interviewee stare right at the camera. This gives the feeling that they are speaking right to the audience.
Standard Operating Procedure is an emotional masterpiece that brilliantly, yet strangely objectively, hits you in the gut. There is no archive news footage, no CSPAN, no newspaper headlines, no George Bush, etc. Only three things make up this film: The interviews, the pictures and letters, and jaw-dropping re-enactments. This stripped-bare motif might come across as quite a snoozer in the hands of an amateur director, but Morris paces and edits this film well. At one point, I was literally on the edge of my seat, my hand on my mouth.
Morris, in typical form, lights and shoots his interviews amazingly well. He adjusts the camera as to frame their heads to switch from left to center to right of the screen. This makes for great edit jumpcuts. Also, as usual, he lets his interviewees talk and talk in a surprisingly candid manner.
But, the main character in this film are the pictures. The thousands of pictures taken at Abu Gharib. "A picture speaks a thousand words" and Morris has the words to tell the stories behind almost every photo. We all remember the photos, right? The girl soldier holding a dog leash around a naked prisoner's neck? She's on the main interviews. You hate her, then you understand her, then you feel bad for her. You feel bad for all of them. All except Graner, with whom the military denied Morris an interview. But all of these soldiers were poor, stupid scape goats.
One soldier was jailed for only having his back shown in a short series of photos. He was there for only five minutes. And he was helping one of the prisoners to his feet and loosening his handcuffs, which were cutting off circulation. The pictures and video proves this. But he's in jail. No one above Sergeant Major was punished for Abu Gharib despite proven direct influence from Generals, Corporals, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
"The pictures that you saw from Abu Gharib was not torture. That was exaggerated humiliation. The real torture was not photographed. Dozens of tortures ending in death." This is one of the soldiers interviewed who was incarcerated by the military for 3 years for throwing a nerf football at a prisoner's head. He, and others, testify of the presence of CIA, FBI, and DIA agents who would beat, pummel, and often kill their prisoners. Often times these prisoners were innocent taxi drivers, bakers, and even school children. One of the victims of CIA torture was actually photographed post-mordem. Seen here:
I won't lay out all the details, but Morris' interviews go into detail about how this man died.
By the way, the woman who took this photo was put in jail, and is still there. The people who actually killed the man have disappeared into the woodwork.
And Karpinski's interview was amazing. I was 100% sure after listening to her that the Abu Gharib aftermath was nothing more than a cover up. A U.S. Government approved coverup.
One slight critique: Morris' editorial technique is to cut to a black screen and then introduce the next interviewee's audio and then cut to their image. During the third act, which meanders a bit, this gave the impression of about 12 possible endings.
That said, everyone should see this film. Everyone. Seriously. But they won't. They never want to. And that explains a lot about the last 8 years.
While this is indeed disgusting and vile, why are so many people nationwide up at arms about this? Hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent men, women, and children are being killed by American soldiers every month in Iraq. The estimated total is somewhere between 84,389 to 92,067 civilian deaths.
Can we, as a populous, not wrap our heads around the massive statistics of death coming out of Iraq? The little boys and girls getting their faces blown off... do we really need to see a graphic video of that to get us upset?
I mean, the power is with us. We can all get upset about a dead puppy and we can light the internet on fire about animal cruelty.
How's about lighting the internet on fire about the gigantic clusterfuck of death going on the Middle East. You know? The War? The one with all our names attached to it?
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Monday, June 09, 2008
Check there to listen live. We'll be on from 8-9pm....
UPDATED: Listen to the radio show here.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
I worked with Kirby Heyborne and the rest of the "Mormon Film" hacks quite a few years back. I knew, even at the time, that most of them were callous sell-outs looking to make a buck. Once, when I posted about it on blog, they almost sued me over it. Ouch. Anyways, Kirby Heyborne, the star of "The Return Missionary" and whose face is on dozens of "Dear Elder" Mormon Missionary billboards is now pimping Miller Lite. And, fuck, he didn't even sell out for a good beer. Miller Lite tastes like stagnant toilet water.
I just wanted to give everyone an advisory here: if you weren't planning on seeing this movie, you should think about reconsidering. It was pretty god-damned entertaining.
If you have kids, they are sure to enjoy it.
Like a lot of Kung Fu movies, this film starts out with a loser who must train to defeat a dreaded enemy of the land. Like a lot of kids movies, the loser must first learn to believe in himself before he is able to vanquish the dreaded enemy of the land. The film centers around Po (voiced by Jack Black) and his deep love of Kung Fu leading to a most unlikely candidate as recipient of the Dragon Scroll which is supposed to turn him into the greatest warrior of the land. The man set to teach him, Shifu (voiced by Dustin Hoffman) has been teaching Kung Fu his whole life and finds no worth in him until he realizes that he doesn't really have a choice.
The two of them make a great comedic pair, better than I would have expected from a goofball like Jack Black (I mean that in a good way) and a classically trained bad-ass like Dustin Hoffman.
I would have to say that the film is perhaps the most mature 3D animated Dreamworks film the studio has ever made and certainly the only one worth watching (with the exception of their collaborations with Nick Park). And the best part of the movie? No shitty pop-culture references that will date the film.
The Kung Fu in the film is really, really fun and exciting to watch and will draw the kids in and was quite impressive. The 2d animated sequences of the film looked rad and the sound design was pretty good, too. One thing I enjoyed that my brother pointed out was that all of Po's action in the first half of the film before he learned Kung Fu was all taken straight out of the pages of classic Looney Tunes and it worked really well. Seeing anthropomorphic animals smashed by whipping trees, foiled by catapults and pole-vaults, cracked into walls and pounded into the ground is always entertaining to watch.
I'd read early on that Rob Schrab and Dan Harmon were the ones writing the script and that's why I was looking forward to it, but by the time the movie was finished, their names had been removed. I can't seem to find a reason for it, though I heard they were unhappy with Monster House, too, but that movie kicked a whole helluva lot of ass.
Long story short? It's a quick movie and worth the time and the price of a matinée ticket. If you've got kids, you should probably go see it now.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
I draw a modest income with my media production business, but being self-employed makes health insurance damn near impossible to afford. Hell, with the way self-employment taxes are set up, we’re lucky to be able to pay those.
Because of this catch-22 (running your own business at the expense of normal company perks like medical care), I find myself thinking things that no one in an emergency should have to deal with. You see, at a Mother’s Day barbecue last month, my son accidentally lit himself on fire. The barbecue was luau themed and he was wearing a grass skirt. Getting too close to an open flame with all of that dead grass and he was quickly running in circles in the backyard trying to put himself out before family members came to his aid.
My first thought (other than, “Jesus, he’s on fire!”) was, “Is this bad enough to need an emergency room visit?”
As soon as I got close enough to see that the skin on his hands and legs was bubbled over and charred, I realized that it was, indeed, bad enough to need a visit.
My second thought was, “But how will I pay for it?”
It’s sad and disgusting to me that these things were forced to enter my mind when my only thought should have been getting my son immediately to the hospital. Fortunately, these questions were but split seconds in my judgment and we were in the car racing to the hospital in minutes.
The local emergency room didn’t have the facilities to deal with burns as extensive and deep as my sons were, so we were quickly ambulanced to a facility at the University of Utah renowned for it’s Burn Trauma Intensive Care Unit. (40 mile ambulance ride? $2,000)
When we got there, the doctors went to work, cutting his blisters off, treating his wounds and making assessments about the possibility of skin grafting. He had 2nd degree burns over 10% of his body and a few spots were on the border of 3rd degree. I spent 8 sleepless nights in that ICU with my son, helping clean his wounds and wash the dead skin and scabs off twice a day, knowing that this would all cost me more money than I could imagine. But I did it anyway, without regard to the cost because no matter how well off or poor, well insured or not insured at all, medical emergencies take precedence over monetary consideration.
We were able to bring him home just a couple of days before his birthday, though he still needed twice-a-day wound care (and still does). The total cost of this ordeal if I end up having to pay for it out of my own pocket? In excess of $25,000.
But did I have a choice?
But things got worse. The night we brought him home, the most improbable thing in the world happened. I was struck with severe abdominal pain. The worst I’ve ever had in my life.
Again, I started asking myself these questions (after, “Jesus, this hurts like hell!”), “Is it bad enough to need a trip to the emergency room?”
After the first hour, I thought I could self-medicate the pain away. I don’t get heartburn, but I assumed this might be what it’s like, so I decided antacids (which I’ve never used) might help.
Another hour of writhing in pain with no help from antacids went by and I had to reassess my situation, “This still hurts like hell, and the antacids didn’t work. Do I go to the hospital?”
Knowing that I couldn’t afford a trip to the hospital, I decided I’d try more self-medication. “Perhaps I’ve pulled a muscle, or inflamed something,” I thought. And then I proceeded to take some Ibuprofen; hoping painkillers might dull the pain.
Yet another hour of painful torture went by and I was forced again to assess the situation, “It actually hurts worse now, antacids and painkillers didn’t help at all, perhaps it’s something serious. But can I afford a trip to the hospital?”
The answer I came to was that, even if something serious were wrong, I couldn’t afford a trip to the hospital and so I decided that the best course of action was to try sleeping off the pain.
Unfortunately, this didn’t work either. I spent two hours in bed, tossing and turning, trying my hardest to find a position comfortable enough to wait out the pain. No comfortable middle-ground could be found and after 6 hours of excruciating pain and the knowledge that I wouldn’t be able to sleep, suddenly, the cost of a trip to the hospital didn’t seem so consequential.
But why should anyone be forced to writhe in pain for fear of having to pay for a trip to the emergency room? Shouldn’t we, as a society, make sure that when people are in pain, that they are able to seek treatment without the fear of eternal debt and foreclosure and anything else medicals bills of impressive size would cause?
I went to the hospital and discovered that I had a severe case of gallstones and my gallbladder needed to be removed immediately to prevent worse problems, including death. I didn’t really have a choice about this one. I prolonged my decision because of the economics of seeing a doctor and I could have made things a lot worse. The total cost of that operation? In excess of $15,000.
By the end of May, my son and I managed to incur more than $40,000 worth of medical debt. We’re working on a couple of options to cover some or all of this (including Medicaid which is a paper-work nightmare but a dream come true if it works out).
But the point is this, I’ve actually spent more time filling out papers, answering questions, and tracking down documents and pay records trying to get help with these bills than I actually spent in the hospital.
How much safer, easier, cheaper and more pleasant would all of our lives be with single payer universal healthcare? To be able to breathe easy and see the doctor when you need to. To be able to have life-saving surgeries and not worry that you might have to sell your car or go late on your rent? Millions of Americans have problems like this every day and we should be ashamed of ourselves that we’ve led our culture so far down this road.
As for me? I’ll probably end up ok, it seems as though I can get help for my sons bills with a couple of different government programs (like Medicaid or SCHIP). The chances of me getting help with the bills for my surgery are a little lower, but in any case, I’m sure I’ll weather the storm. But for every case like mine, I’m sure there are a dozen families who simply can’t weather the storm, and for that, we should be ashamed.
I’m sure there are a dozen Christian conservatives reading this now and asking themselves, “Why should we help with this? Why should we help people who can’t afford to take care of themselves?”
In the novel Jailbird, Kurt Vonnegut provided me with the perfect answer to these questions and it’s very simple: “Why? The Sermon on the Mount, sir.”
Friday, June 06, 2008
This one is the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival.
Killer at Large is screening at their largest venue on June 26, 2008 at 5:00.
That's two festivals going on at the same time and we're not sure yet which we'll be at, if any.
So, keep an eye on this space for more info.
Also, we're about to launch some new places on the Killer at Large website, so I'll be announcing that hopefully today or tomorrow, too.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
It's on Google News and Yahoo and Prweb.
You can check it out here:
CDC Study: Junk Food in Utah School's a "Killer at Large"
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
RALPH NADER ON RISING OIL PRICES (Gold)
SCOTT MCCLELLAN ON THE DAILY SHOW
ACTORS WHO TURNED DOWN WINNING ROLES
GAY SUPERHERO COSTUMES
THE ONION MOVIE featuring Steven Seagal
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
When he gave his speech at the DNC in 2004, Barack Obama stood out as easily the best speech of the night, upstaging even John Kerry (not really a feat?) I remember that I was in the middle of shooting "This Divided State". I sat in my living room and watched the DNC in its entirety. The night was full of passion, ire, and hope. George Bush had flushed the country away in only 4 years. The Democrats had a decorated war hero running for president. He was fluent in many languages (even English). He was intelligent and well spoken. He had an air of change around him. Many of us didn't see John Kerry, we saw a better future and a more stable society.
And he lost.
To a war criminal.
And now Barack Obama takes the stand. And he makes John Kerry look like a bumbling forth grader. He's passionate about unity, patriotism and change. He wants to help the poor with universal health care. He wants to focus on our suffering education system. He wants to have meetings with those who are at odds with us and he wants to talk to them about solving problems diplomatically. He gives speeches that bring tears to our eyes. We look to Obama and see a better future and a more stable society.
Is there a dismal pattern developing? Has America woken up yet? Are we still scared shitless? Are we still clinging to the candidate with the biggest gun? Are we still susceptible to falling for childish Republican "Swift Boat" arguments? Will we actually give a damn about Reverend Wright? Sweet Jesus, I hope we've woken up. God, I sure hope we have.
Barack Obama faces a Republican War Machine that has been backed into a corner and will fight like a rabid animal to remain at the top. They will fight dirty and with no remorse or dignity. They never do. They will spin, spin, spin, spin every ounce of dirt on Obama and they will throw that dirt into the eyes of American public, hopefully blinding us long enough for another stolen win.
Barack Obama is the super hero we've all been waiting for. Swooping out of the sky with a vision to save America from its descent into madness.
Let's hope that doesn't hurt him come November.
It seems as though Obama has clinched the nomination today and the text of his speech tonight was leaked to the press.
I read it and I have to hand it to his speech-writers.
Just reading the damn thing got me misty eyed. It's a preposterously well laid out speech, it hits all the right notes, invokes all the right imagery and replaces that misty eyed idealism in being an American that we've been missing so much during our Bush led long national nightmare.
His speechwriters certainly have that flair of phrase-turning that makes speeches memorable. I mean, we haven't heard presidential speeches like this since Roosevelt and Kennedy. Hell, even Reagan had a great turn of phrase or two (Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall, etc.), but it's nothing next to things like this:
In our country, I have found that this cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but because behind all the labels and false divisions and categories that define us; beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.It's just really well put together.
So it was for that band of patriots who declared in a Philadelphia hall the formation of a more perfect union; and for all those who gave on the fields of Gettysburg and Antietam their last full measure of devotion to save that same union.
So it was for the Greatest Generation that conquered fear itself, and liberated a continent from tyranny, and made this country home to untold opportunity and prosperity.
So it was for the workers who stood out on the picket lines; the women who shattered glass ceilings; the children who braved a Selma bridge for freedom's cause.
So it has been for every generation that faced down the greatest challenges and the most improbable odds to leave their children a world that's better, and kinder, and more just.
And so it must be for us.
America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.
The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment -- this was the time -- when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.
And could you imagine a bumbling moron like Bush delivering a speech this eloquent without screwing it up? No. You can't.
This doesn't exactly mean I'm voting for him. Nader still is on the ballot and he'll have to do more than deliver a speech to earn my vote, but jeez, this speech goes a long way in that direction.